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Adelphi men want to run and gun, and play stifling defense

 The Adelphi men’s basketball team is fully embracing the modern game.

“We love it,” said guard Jack Laffey of his team’s fast-paced style of play, which places extreme emphasis on the three-pointer. “We love running and the easiest way to do that is to get stops. The more stops we get, the more we can get out in transition and shoot threes.”

The Panthers finished 11-18 last season (7-13 Northeast-10) and will open Nov. 10 against Queens College. Coach Dave Duke touched on how he completely embraces the new-wave, analytics-driven game.

“Playing fast and shooting a lot of threes has really been good to us,” said Duke, whose team averaged 85.7 points and 33.1 three-point attempts per game in 2017-2018. “The new analytics goes by points per possession. We averaged the most possessions in our conference last season at about 80 per game. It’s a very fun style of basketball.”

Duke said he not only stresses an up-tempo offense predicated on three-point shooting and points per possession, but also the often overlooked importance of playing quality defense and rebounding efficiently.

“It’s not just about scoring points,” Duke said. “When you look at these great NBA teams like the Golden State Warriors, they’re not just scoring points. They’re also really defending. When you look at Villanova in Division I, they’re an offensive juggernaut, but they dig in, lock down and get stops. That offense comes from defense.”

Laffey, who averaged 14.1 points per game last season while shooting 39.4 percent from three-point range, also highlighted the need to make strides defensively after Adelphi allowed 90+ points eight times last season.

“Last year we were able to score the ball, but we would lose games in the 90s and 100s,” Laffey said. “The key thing will be defense. It’s really been a point so far this year.”

With only four returning players, senior forward Nick Cambio said he has put it upon himself to fill more of a leadership role.

“I’m always talking to the younger guys during and after practice,” Cambio said. “Everything we do is a lot and a lot of them aren’t used to playing in a system. It’s different here. So it’s helpful to talk to them about concepts.”

One of the four incoming freshmen Duke is particularly excited about is guard Dejavaughn Utley out of Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Queens. Duke, however, believes all four have the potential to make an immediate impact for the Panthers.

“All of them are equally important,” Duke said. “I think all of them can come in and be major contributors. One that could be fun if it works out is Utley. But from a talent perspective, all the guys we have we feel like we’ve poached from a higher level and are excited to get them out there.”

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